Interested in living a healthy, active life to age 100? Some places in the world have high concentrations of people who are doing just that. And those areas have something in common: a plant-based diet.
- In Okinawa, Japan, over 90% of their traditional diet is plant based.
- In the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica where 1 in 250 live to 100, the traditional diet is almost 100% plant-based.
- The Seventh Day Adventists in California, specifically the vegetarian segment, has the longest-lived population in the world.
These are the so-called Blue Zones which have such a concentration of longevity that it has attracted the attention of several studies. The Journal of the American Medical Association studied the California Seventh-Day Adventists and verified an average of 7.28 years greater life expectancy for men and 4.42 years in women over other Californians, citing the vegetarian diet as a primary factor.
Only about 1 in 4000 Americans make it to the age of 100. Why would a plant-based diet make such a difference?
The British Medical Association’s “The BMJ” published a study where increasing red meat consumption showed a 9% – 13% higher risk of death in the following eight years. Since animals are higher on the food chain and concentrate toxins from the food they consume, one possible reason for the superiority of the plant diet could be the low toxic build-up. But another potential reason has surfaced:
Sulfur amino acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Animal proteins are complete proteins, and when broken down they produce all the amino acids. The amino acids also can be derived from plants, and they can provide complete protein if balanced correctly. High protein diets are popular, but conditions such as vascular disease (especially cardiovascular disease) and osteoporosis are linked to excessive protein consumption.
Penn State College of Medicine researchers narrowed the issue to two amino acids: methionine (Met) and cysteine (Cys). They found the average intake of these sulfur amino acids was nearly 2.5 times the estimated average requirement, with the primary sources being meat and dairy products. Overconsumption of Met and Cys increased the cardiometabolic risk score in the study participants significantly. Those eating plant-based diets naturally consumed less sulfur amino acids, as fruits and vegetables are much lower in Met/Cys than meats.
Excess is harmful
One avenue for increased longevity that has been studied extensively in animals is caloric restriction. Reducing the “food load” on the body generally correlates to longer life. But the exact reasons for the correlation have been difficult to determine, as they are quite complex. The isolation of the sulfur amino acids may be a key to this mystery.
If you are an average American and taking 2.5 times the amount of these amino acids that you need, you certainly don’t need to increase them. Increasing anything beyond what you need creates a waste disposal problem for your body. Simply reducing meat intake and increasing fruit/vegetable consumption is a simple answer!
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
It is time for everyone to understand that animal protein is not essential in our diet. Elephants eat mainly leaves and grass and have massive muscles, strong dense bones and are truly the king of the jungle. How do they do that with just leaves and grass? Here is the key missing ingredient: they are living greens and living grasses, full of light energy called biophotons and enzymes which are required for all cellular functions. This is what makes health, not having all the vitamins and minerals in the right ratios. Health comes from LIFE. When you eat living food you bring your health to a whole new level. What is living? Sprouts, raw sprouted seeds and nuts. Life brings forth Life. Also what this study showed was when you eat too much methionine, which is high in animal products, it not only predisposes you to cardiovascular disease, but cancer as well. When you eat your salads and your vegetables and low glycemic index fruits you are eating enough protein for cellular function but not enough to produce disease.